Tempe voters will elect a new mayor Tuesday following a mudslinging, divisive battle that Michael Monti and Mark Mitchell have waged in their bids for office.
Voters will also select a City Council candidate, but the mayoral race has been a much more high profile affair since Mitchell and Monti emerged from March’s primary election in a virtual tie.
On the issues, the two are split on a $130 million streetcar proposal on Mill Avenue.
Monti, a restaurant owner in his first political campaign, supports the plan to help promote businesses along the track. Three-term Councilman Mitchell said he can’t support the project now because the city may not be able to afford its operating cost.
They’ve outlined competing plans for the city’s budget and economic development initiatives.
Monti has promoted a study of building a beach and swimming area within Tempe Town Lake. He has called for smaller government and rewarding city employees who identify significant spending cuts. He argues that Tempe can attract more businesses by minimizing regulations.
Mitchell wants to work with the business community and other cities on economic development initiatives. He has promoted a convention center downtown that would be a regional attraction.
Monti has criticized the convention proposal, saying no cost or funding source has been identified.
Both men are sons of prominent Tempeans: Monti’s father founded the landmark Monti’s La Casa Vieja that Michael now runs, while Mitchells’ father was a longtime high school history teacher who became mayor and later served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Both candidates and their supporters have veered into negative campaigning as the election has neared. Mitchell has been attacked for working at a business that failed during the recession, while Monti has come under fire for running two restaurants that failed and liens placed against his business.
Mitchell has recently been accused of sexual misconduct nearly 30 years ago when he was a minor, which he denies and considers a dirty political trick that’s the work of Monti’s campaign. Monti denies that his campaign raised the issue.
Monti is endorsed by outgoing Mayor Hugh Hallman, while Mitchell has the backing of Hallman’s predecessor, Neil Giuliano.
The election includes a City Council position sought by Dick Foreman and Kolby Granville.
Foreman is the director of corporate public affairs at Southwest Gas and a former member of the Tempe Union High School District governing board. He has promoted streamlining government processes to make it easier for businesses to operate in the city. Foreman joined Monti in supporting the Town Lake beach and swimming area proposal.
Granville is an attorney who served on the Municipal Arts Commission when the Tempe Center for the Arts was being developed. He’s promoted keeping taxes low to attract businesses.
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